Ötzi the Iceman
March 6, 2009 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Fascinating. I was particularly interested in his tattoos, for some reason.
posted by ob at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2009

I was particularly interested in his tattoos, for some reason.

Probably because they provide evidence that, despite some arguments to the contrary, some human beings have not evolved a whit of common sense in 4,000 years.
posted by Faze at 4:12 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Amazing, if somewhat disquieting (to me anyway) pictures. I kind of flash to Nosferatu. I think it's the awkward position and the ears.

And I'll bite, Faze, what about tattoos is so against common sense?
posted by Nomiconic at 4:15 PM on March 6, 2009

This is amazing. Thank you. He looks like jerky though.
posted by Lizc at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2009

I love Otzi. He has told us more than we could ever have hoped to know about his world. But we'll always have to wonder, why was he ambushed? Was he a man with a past? Or were his attackers just bandits, after his copper ax?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:31 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow. Awesome photos. Interesting forensic info.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:41 PM on March 6, 2009

ob: "Fascinating. I was particularly interested in his tattoos, for some reason."

Barcodes Of The Gods.

posted by merelyglib at 5:03 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

IIRC, some scientists correlated the location of his tattoos to locations of injuries and/or chronic conditions he may have suffered. Following that line of thinking, the tattoos may have had some medicinal, therapeutic or spiritual meaning to Otzi and his culture. That is interesting to me.

Comments like Faze's make me wish for anti-favorites.
posted by gnutron at 5:17 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

You are using a browser that is not supported! That was some insightful iceman wisdom there.
posted by localroger at 6:15 PM on March 6, 2009

Hey, the dude's naked! Where's the NSFW tag? Oh, never mind, I see he doesn't have privates.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:44 PM on March 6, 2009

cjorgensen, the question of "where Ötzi's penis at?" was raised early on in Time (Oct 1992):
He had also been castrated; it turned out that his penis and most of his scrotum were missing, perhaps accidentally broken off during his recovery and taken by a visitor.
However, according to the book on the subject (page 181), it's there:
Platzer estimated that the penis was about two inches long, measuring half an inch thick at the base and narrowing to just one-eighth inch at its tip. The shrinkage was considerable.
I can't really believe I just ran around google looking for that.
posted by lowlife at 7:11 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

Great resource. I was fortunate enough to visit Ötzi in the excellent archaeology museum in Bolzano three years ago.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:34 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

The good news is that you will have a legacy and people will remember you thousands of years from now. The bad news is that they will be laughing at your diminuitive penis.
posted by localroger at 8:26 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

That's not what she said.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:32 PM on March 6, 2009

A tattoo irrevocably mars and disrespects the beautiful body God gave you, and is virtually an engraved invitation to all sorts of spiritual unpleasantness. Satisfied? Tattoo certainly didn't do Otzi any good.
posted by Faze at 4:56 AM on March 7, 2009

..Funny, he doesn't look Italian.

[ok, I'm done with the penis jokes. Terrific post merelyglib.]
posted by applemeat at 6:20 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thousands of years from now, people will question the value that butterfly tattoos have for young women of our culture. Too bad we won't have a good answer.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:38 AM on March 7, 2009

I sometimes feel bad about my tattoos. They're so common today they seem passe. Then I read comments like Faze's and realize they still work.

/tattoo derail

Excellent and interesting post - thank you!
posted by zylocomotion at 6:51 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

According to some sources on Otzi, the tattoos on his body correspond with his arthritic joints and may have been part of early accupuncture treatments. His tattoos probably had medicinal or spiritual purposes and it was unlikely they were used to impress bronze age vixens at the local mead drinking spot.

I do think it would be hilarious to see a tiny tattooed dolphin jumping through a peace symbol on his ankle though.
posted by pluckysparrow at 11:06 AM on March 7, 2009

I have to assume that Faze is being facetious because I can't really imagine that anyone could be so sanctimoniously judgmental about what someone does with their own body. I mean, seriously....what do you care?

I love my tattoos and those of many other people. I find the fact of Otzis' tattoos really fascinating as historical insight into long-lost cultures.

/tattoo derail 2.0
posted by supermedusa at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2009

GREAT post! I just wish we could also see some of the artifacts he was found with.
posted by snsranch at 3:03 PM on March 7, 2009

If you are ever in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has a display case on Otzi in the Western Cultures exhibit hall. It is just one case but has a mannequin/reconstruction of Otzi, dressed in replicas of his clothing, and with replicas of some of the artifacts he was found with. Also, this web page has links to sites that have pictures of the artifacts he was found with.
posted by gudrun at 5:08 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Thing is, why would he need to have tats showing where he has arthritis? Surely he could tell any medical person where it hurt, and how long? Did his primary care provider have so many patients that they couldn't remember? Or maybe they marked it so his insurance company would know it was a pre-existing condition, so it wouldn't be covered and he'd have to fork out 100 clams for treatment when he went to healers over the mountains?

Yeah, i'm being facetious. But I really think the acupuncture thing is as likely to be 20th century projection as reality.

I wish, I really wish I had a genuine narrative of his life. It drives me nuts that all I have are the stories I imagine and ideas that are informed by people who can only see through the lenses of their time.

Who was he? Would he think penis jokes about his bazillion-year-old corpse was funny?

(I would. I would think that jokes and speculation about the genitals that had been gnawed off my body long after I was dead, thousands of years after that, THOUSANDS, I would think that would just be.... hilarious.)
posted by merelyglib at 6:48 PM on March 7, 2009

It's a wonderful resource that these high quality photos have been taken and made public. This means that Otzi can be studied by more people without handling and possibly damaging him.

That said, as a person who regularly handles extremely fragile ethnographic artifacts, I am quietly cringing because some of the photos look like there's an arm or leg hanging unsupported over the sort of small lab table. Also, what is up with the scrape/scratch marks on the table? It almost looks as if Otzi was dragged across the table to arrange him in the different positions, which is totally not proper technique for handling something of this nature.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:14 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

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